Friday, February 27, 2009

Hail Caesar

While having lunch out with a friend last week I was appalled at the price we paid for a Caesar Salad. My salad which consisted of romaine lettuce and an oil based vinegar dressing on a dinner plate with a roll on the side was $8.95. My dining companion opted for grilled chicken on his and it came with 4 slices of chicken breast at the astonishing price of $12.95. Can you believe it?? Prices like that for lunch!!

This experience got me thinking about our current horrible economic status in this country and the fact that if some people just understood how much cheaper it is to cook meals from scratch instead of going out to restaurants or take out delis, they would save so much money. I know time is a big issue for folks with kids at home but I work full time and I manage. You just need to put a bit of effort into planning your menus and making sure you have well stocked pantry with the basics.

I decided to make my own Caesar Salad this weekend to go along with our Fettucini Alfredo pasta and it probably only cost me $3.00 for a huge salad bowl full. Granted I already had some stale french bread in the house to make the croutons but still and all.....a mere pittance the cost of restaurant food. Okay, I'm going to get off my soap box now and give you my recipe. This was a new recipe I tried out for the dressing and it was delicious. Very lemony and flavorful with the touch of anchovies and Parmesan cheese. I also liked this recipe because it doesn't have the traditional raw egg in it which tends to make me a bit nervous when cooking with raw eggs. I was lazy this weekend though and didn't put out the ingredients to photograph as I normally do.

Caesar Salad
Cubed stale french bread (approximately 1/2 loaf)
1-2 minced garlic cloves
1 heaping tsp. lemon zest
2 heaping Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Put the garlic, lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir together. Add the bread cubes and pour over enough olive oil to lightly coat the bread and mix all the ingredients together until the bread is well coated. Bake the bread in a single layer for 10 minutes, then turn them over and bake for another 10 minutes until they are light golden brown. Put aside to cool.Caesar Salad Dressing
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2-3 medium anchovy fillets or 2-3 squirts of anchovy paste
1-2 medium cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
In a food processor mix together cheese, lemon zest, mustard, anchovies, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice until well combined. With machine going, slowly pour olive oil in and process until creamy and blended. Adjust the salt and pepper as needed.

To assemble salad, tear up a large romaine lettuce into 1 inch pieces into a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss until all the leaves are well coated. Top with the croutons and some shavings of Parmesan cheese.


Laura said...

Looks delicious! I love to compare store/restaurant foods vs homemade. I might have to make this I love Caesar but 10 bucks is too much.
Thanks for your encouragement, Laura

Anonymous said...

making croutons, smell great, sure they will be fine, had a thought, same recipe, instead of bread try asparagus, getting toward the season for fresh, browned or blackened, cold on salad or warm side dish, worth the time to experiment? I'm going to muck about with it, will let you know ( how about split brussel sprouts instead in the fall)